Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Give the Mayor a Raise

Here we go again. The City’s Salary Setting Commission has again recommended pay raises for the mayor and City Council. This year the commission is not just recommending a pay raise, they are recommending a HUGE PAY RAISE. The recommendation for the mayor translates to a $135,536 raise from $100,464 to a whopping $235,000. The City Council would be equally rewarded for their hard work and diligence (in theory folks) with a raise of just less than $100,000 to add to their $75,386 salary.

Now before you all start screaming what a croc of poo this is, I need to admit I actually agree with the premise of raising the salary of our elected leaders. Let us take the persons who occupy the current elected positions out of the discussion and focus on the positions. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” could not be more clear and obvious until you look at the current group of elected persons running this city.

Why would anyone with a brain, experience, and ability to make a difference, leave a good paying private sector job to run for election, for a job that pays less than a tenured police officer? Add to this the hours one would devote to the position, the wear and tear and miles on one’s personal vehicle, and the out of pocket cost for medical insurance. Why would a normal person seek this job unless it were simply for ego, power or some other narcissistic need?

We expect and demand (those of us who pay attention and care) that our mayor be an honest, experienced, educated and dedicated person who understands finance, budget, personnel, politics and has an above average ability to communicate honesty with us taxpayers. When we pay $100,464 to that person, you need look no further than the current person occupying the mayor’s office to understand the need to elevate the pay to attract a higher quality individual.

The mayor has begun to sound off reasons for refusing the recommendations of the commission. He is taking the political high road in his refusal to accept the increases. The council will no doubt follow suit and simply for political reasons. They would be crucified, if they for a millisecond, discussed accepting the recommendation. That is too bad.

The intelligent course of action would be to set a plan in motion to increase the salary for elected members in future years, so as not to affect the salary of the current elected members. The salary for the mayor should be increased incrementally as suggested beginning in 2012 when the next mayor takes office. The same would follow for city council positions, beginning with the city council positions up for election in 2012.

BEFORE any of this can occur, the mayor and council, need to correct the current structural problems with the city’s budget. To do this the mayor and council MUST increase revenue and begin to charge taxpayers the normal cost of services. Until the days of a free ride are put behind this city, nothing will change. The Chargers, Padres, Rock and Roll Marathon, Street Scene, Movie details and the many other special events that are subsidized by taxpayers, must pay the cost of the services necessary to hold their events. The Transient Occupancy Tax, which is the lowest of any major city, needs to be raised substantially and the revenue used to fund public safety and begin funding retiree medical.

The mayor and council must also begin paying their fair share of the retirement contribution necessary to fund their retirement. Their current contribution of 9.06% of the 39.59% required, must be brought in line with the premise of “Substantially Equal” and they must contribute 19.8% to receive their current benefit of 3.5% per year of elected service.

The mayor and council must also act to restore the positions eliminated from the police department as well as the wages and benefits of police officers. None of this will happen with the current mayor in the position of “strong mayor.” He does not have the ability to be honest nor is he capable of putting his inflated ego on the shelf and admitting he has been less than truthful from the beginning about DROP and the other benefits earned by police officers. He continues the politics by refusing to disclose the contents of a DROP study already conducted to determine cost neutrality and stonewalls providing information on the second study he is seeking in hopes of altering reality. I go back to the initial conversation I had with the mayor prior to him first being elected and his comment about DROP, “It’s political, I won’t get elected telling the truth about DROP.”

I’m headed to the eastern Sierra tomorrow to do some fishing. I hope to dodge a few rain drops, a little bit of snow and float down the Owens River trying to outdo last year’s catch. I’m going to do a bit of reading, some writing and relax. I have a couple of rants in my head and will find the time to put them to paper and post while I am gone. Be safe and take care of each other. Go Saints.


Just Wondering said...

You’ve got to be Kidding

As strong Mayor’s go, Sanders is a figure head, a straw man, and really not much more. The real work, budget, planning, leadership are done by Sander’s employees: Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone and his staff. Legal work, analysis, and advice is done by Jan Goldsmith, and Andrea Tevlin leads the Office of Independent Budget Analyst who works for the Council but whose job is to keep an eye on Mayor and Goldstone’s budget.

You know what's really funny about this? It's exactly how he ran the Police Department when he was Chief. Everyone else did the real work and he took the credit. The difference between then and now, his salary was at the top and now it's not.

Anyway, the combined salary and benefits for these real workers alone is closing in on three quarters of a million bucks. As a “figure head” his wage seem fine to me. Besides our Mayor is hurting as he double dips with his full retirement pay and his Mayoral salary.

You get what you pay for…

Maybe! However, the context of the phrase usually applies to goods, not politicians. In my opinion politicians are a whole other breed of humans. They are, as you mentioned, driven by ego, the possession and exercising of power and, as you also pointed out, narcissism.

To better understand that last term let me offer this from Wikipedia.

The term narcissism refers to the personality trait of egotism, which includes the set of character traits concerned with self-image ego. The terms narcissism, narcissistic, and narcissist are often used as pejoratives, denoting vanity, conceit, egotism or simple selfishness. Applied to politicians it’s used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.

Doesn’t this describe our Mayor to a tee?

But back to salary. In the last Mayoral election how many candidates filed for the job? Several. In the Council races we find the same thing. One of the things common to both is the salaries are known by the prospective candidates. I believe it’s not about salary. It is about power, being the center of attention and ego. All of the narcissistic traits mentioned above.

Now I agree with you about having a plan of wage compensation increases. Wages, just like in business, should be tied to accomplishments. In other words why not think outside the box and set a wage scale on performance with a base salary and some performance milestones that trigger wage bonuses.
Yes I know it’s complicated but given some time and effort a fair compensation plan could be implemented. Think of the incentive to actually accomplish tasks rather than spinning information and working to get elected to the next office. San Diego could become a model for nation, where politician work for a living, serving their constituents and coming together to do good rather than the general lip service we get now-a-days.

Anonymous said...

I knew you would jump on this Steve. How about mentioning our salary study that was done a couple of years ago, showing we were among the lowest compensated police departments in the state? A lot of good that did us right?

The good news just keeps coming around here. This city is such a joke!

A regular reader/fan said...

Have a great trip

Anonymous said...

Carl DeMaio is the MASTER of SPIN. In a twitter post on Saturday he praises the UT on another biased editorial. But instead of linking to the UT's Sign On San Diego page where folks can post comments, the Little Rube links to Pressmart Media version where you see the editorial but no rebuttals. WHAT A COWARD!

Anonymous said...

Interesting article in the NY Times this morning on manipulating crime stats...

Just Wondering said...

Makes You Wonder

The previous poster's link didn't work.

A very interesting article and reality check. I'm just wondering about San Diego's stats... I have no doubt many crimes are not being reported due to the delays.

The questions their collusion by those in power to keep this under wraps?


Anonymous said...

Ok this just in...... our Chief Letusdown just got on the 6 o'clock news and made us look like we are not feeling the affects of the budget crisis. Chief said, by the department taking Officers out of specialized units that there will be more Officers in the field and Officers will be able to respond to calls faster even though we are laying of 86 civilian support workers.

What dream world is he living in? I got hired here a little over three years ago and I even know our support staff is a big part of the good services we provide the citizens of San Diego. When I was hired I was told the worst is over and the best to come. What a joke. As long as we have command staff willing to throw there workers under the bus on the news we will never see better times here in the SDPD.

At this point, I don't think we can even blame the citizens. I mean if I was just one of the civilians and did not have the insight of being an Officer I would believe my Police Chief reassuring me they were more capable then ever in keeping crime down. And I would support benefit and pay cuts too.

At the end of the interview the thought of cuts in july for the police department came up. Chief made it very clear there is a budget deficient and the police department is going to take part in fixing it.

My question is what more are they going to take. I have seen the cuts start to tear Officers out of their houses (Foreclosures and short sales). When is someone on the 7th floor going to step up and take a stand. And how about some compassion for those civilians that got pink slips!!!!! We all have worked with the great individuals. The Chief did not even say it was sorry to see these individuals go!!!!!!

Another thing I wonder, is if every division is noticing is the cut back in janitor services? I wonder if we face more cut backs in July if the department will start another program for Worst Officer of the shift so we have someone to clean the bathrooms and take out the trash since we probably wont have janitors anymore. I know I am going to prepare myself and just stash a roll of TP in my locker just in case.

Good luck to all and don't let the bad times affect our families.